There are new changes to the pool and spa fencing laws which will come into effect on 29 April 2016. While the frequent changes cause a bit of a headache, the legislators probably revisit the issue because drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five years of age. Children can of course drown in other bodies of water, not just pools. If you want more information about keeping children safe, follow this link to Kidsafe NSW:
The new changes will mostly impact people who are selling or leasing their property after 29 April 2016. Without the Certificate your contract for sale is not a valid contract under the legislation, that is, the purchase could walk away at any time and take their deposit.
You will need to obtain a Certificate of Compliance from Council before you can do these things. As you are probably aware it can take some time to obtain council certificates so you shouldn’t leave it until the last minute. Additionally, keeping people safe from drowning is always a good idea, think about getting your certificate now.
There is a fee for obtaining the certificate, $250 for Penrith City Council residents, which includes a fee of $100 for a second visit that will be refunded if the second visit is not necessary. There is no official indication of how long it will take to obtain this certificate so if you are thinking of selling, start the process now.
You can access the checklist for compliance and complete it yourself, for your own piece of mind, if you don’t want to pay the fee. You can obtain the checklists by following this link:
Some of the things you may need to do to make your pool area compliant include:
- Checking the height of the pool fence – depending on the age and location of the pool this needs to be between 1200mm and 1800mm – this includes not having a horizontal surface within 900mm of the fence that a child could climb on
- There must not be a gap of more than 100mm under the fence at any point
- The pool fence must be well maintained (nothing broken, no holes)
- The fence must be at least 300mm from the pool
- The gate must open outwards, and must automatically close and lock
- The gate latch must be 1500mm high, or if inside the pool area 1200mm high and 150mm below the top of the gate
- You need a safety sign (CPR sign) which can easily be read from 3 metres (that is it has to be big) and it has to be in the ‘immediate vicinity’ of the pool area
There are many other things that you also need to check, but this gives you an idea of the safety issues highlighted in the latest changes.
A council officer who performs these inspections tells us that many people fail because they don’t have a CPR sign, not a difficult or expensive thing but you would have to wait for the council officer to come back and council will charge you $100 for the second visit. The other common issues are fences that aren’t tall enough, sometimes because there are horizontal objects nearby a child could climb on, and an older gate that self closes but does not automatically lock.
Spas are different, they are compliant if you have a lockable child safe lid and a safety sign, but there is a checklist for the spas as well.
Your boundary fences may be one of the things that needs to change in order to comply with the legislation, many pools are next to boundary fences. If you need help or guidance to deal with your neighbour on this issue, please have a look at our article regarding boundary fences:
In short, if the only issue in relation to the boundary fence is, it isn’t tall enough for your pool, and your neighbour doesn’t have a pool against that fence, then you need to pay for the work to the boundary fence. This sort of work will add to the length of time it will take to obtain a certificate so again, you should really consider now what changes you need to make to get your pool compliant.